Hospital emergency department visits related to the dangerous hallucinogenic drug Ecstasy, sometimes known as "Molly," increased 128 percent between 2005 and 2011 (from 4,460 visits in 2005 to 10,176 visits in 2011) for visits among patients younger than 21 years old, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Overall in 2011, there were approximately 1.25 million emergency department visits related to the use of illicit drugs.
Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, and produces feelings of increased energy and euphoria among users. Abuse of Ecstasy can produce a variety of undesirable health effects such as anxiety and confusion, which can last one week or longer after using the drug. Other serious health risks associated with the use of Ecstasy include becoming dangerously overheated, high blood pressure, and kidney and heart failure.
Recently there have been several deaths associated with Molly, a variant of Ecstasy, among young people taking it at concerts and raves.
Another key finding shows that a substantial proportion of hospital emergency departments visits associated with Ecstasy during the six year period also involved underage drinking. In each year from 2005 to 2011, an average of 33 percent of emergency department visits among those younger than age 21 involved Ecstasy and involved alcohol. This unsafe combination causes a longer-lasting euphoria than Ecstasy or alcohol use alone and may increase the risk for potential abuse.
"These findings raise concerns about the increase in popularity of this potentially harmful drug, especially in young people," said Dr. Peter Delany, Director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. "Ecstasy is a street drug that can include other substances that can render it even more potentially harmful. We need to increase awareness about this drug's dangers and take other measures to help prevent its use."
SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) manages several grant programs intended to reduce substance abuse among youth. Among them is CSAP's Partnerships for Success grant program, which provides funding to states and jurisdictions to address substance abuse prevention priorities among youth and young adults, which can include Ecstasy. CSAP also manages the Drug Free Communities Support Program (DFC), funded through the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which supports coalitions and their efforts to employ a variety of evidence-based strategies to reduce drug use among youth.
The report, titled Ecstasy-Related Emergency Department Visits by Young People Increased between 2005 and 2011; Alcohol Involvement Remains a Concern, is based on 2005 to 2011 findings from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits and drug-related deaths to track the impact of drug use, misuse and abuse in the United States. The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA website at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/spotlight/spot127-youth-ecstasy-2013.pdf.